[Hpn] Once homeless, mom makes good;Seattle Times;7/5/01

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Thu, 05 Jul 2001 13:31:08 -0400


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-------Forwarded article-------

Thursday, July 05, 2001
Seattle Times <http://seattletimes.nwsource.com>
[Seattle, Washington]
Local News section
Once homeless, mom makes good
<http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/134314330_engineer05m.html>

By Brad Wong
Seattle Times staff reporter


--[Photo & caption]
PEDRO PEREZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Gena Loutsis, has beat the odds. Once on welfare, she lived in 10 different 
shelters before getting on her feet as a Web-site designer.


For a woman who has been so close to life's edge, Gena Loutsis is still 
standing.

In 1992, after leaving a trying seven-year relationship with her boyfriend, 
who had fathered her four children, she was jobless and on welfare. With no 
permanent home for nine months, she and her young children - then ages 2 to 
6 - lived in 10 shelters.

Today, the 34-year-old Edmonds resident's life could hardly be more 
different. As an employee at Bellevue-based Pointshare, an online company 
that aims to improve health-care administration by exchanging referrals, 
reports and patient information via the Internet, she strides easily through 
the high-tech office, with its glass walls and partitioned offices.

Last month, Loutsis was one of eight people - and the only one from 
Washington state - to be honored at a U.S. Labor Department conference in 
Washington, D.C. The conference, which featured President Bush, focused on 
success stories and future labor programs.


--[Sidebar]

Tech conference


Gena Loutsis will talk about technology at a conference on "Bridging the 
Digital Divide: Women and Girls in Technology" Tuesday at South Seattle 
Community College. The conference will start at 8:45 a.m. For information, 
call 206-553-1534.

--[End of sidebar]


She even met the president, who congratulated her for doing so well.

"I don't remember exactly what I said because I was so shocked that I spoke 
to him," Loutsis said. "I felt so blessed."

Instead of viewing her life as one filled with setbacks, she and her 
children frame it in a positive light. "Whenever we're in a situation, I 
tell them it's an adventure," Loutsis said. "I know if I'm negative, the 
kids will be negative."

She is now using her Edmonds Community College education to design and run 
Web sites to introduce more women to technology. Nights and weekends, she 
designs Web pages for her second job, with Tukwila-based Media Logic.

She says the Web sites are one way for her to give back to the community and 
people who helped her when she was in need.

Her path to happiness and stability has been challenging. But her positive 
outlook has pushed her forward, said Cindi Price, her former caseworker.

"Somewhere in her life, something happened that was very good. And she was 
able to hold on to that and go back to that," Price said. "She's so 
incredibly smart."

Loutsis' calm demeanor stems from her pillars in life: her children, church, 
family and friends.

After her brother introduced her to the Esperance Baptist Church in 1992, 
she found the support she needed - the Scripture, friends to talk with and 
people who taught her about financial management and raising children.

Knowing that Loutsis and her children lacked a home, church members Ced and 
Diane Pruitt of Edmonds gave them housing, love and support.

"I was a mom who Gena could talk to," said Diane Pruitt, 53.

"They came to my rescue," Loutsis said.


By the time she had enrolled in Edmonds Community College, her children were 
pitching in with household chores and encouraging her. In one way, she was 
just like them - a student.

"My kids are a team. They helped me stay on track," she said. "They reminded 
me that we had to be quiet and all do homework."

They also understood their mother's predicament. When they were growing up 
and money was tight, they often declined invitations to classmates' birthday 
parties because they couldn't afford gifts.

Loutsis' next goals: to buy a home in Edmonds, save enough money to take her 
kids to Disneyland and become a counselor to encourage other women in need.

"It's not painful anymore," she said. "I've been able to get past this."

Brad Wong can be reached at 206-464-2750 or bwong3@seattletimes.com.

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Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA


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